The Making of Challenge Coins Explained

The Making of Challenge Coins Explained

Renita Wingfield

The tradition of challenge coins is deeply rooted in military history, symbolizing camaraderie, achievement, and honor among units and organizations. Today, this tradition has transcended military bounds, finding a place in various sectors, including corporate, emergency services, and social clubs. But how are these distinguished tokens created? In this article, we'll unveil the intricacies of how to make challenge coins, guiding you through the materials used, the design process, and the production stages that culminate in these symbols of pride and unity.

What Are Challenge Coins Made Of?

Challenge coins are not just tokens of recognition or memorabilia; they are meticulously crafted pieces that hold substantial meaning for their recipients. The materials from which they are made play a significant role in their value and the message they convey. The primary materials used in the production of challenge coins include bronze, brass, nickel, and copper, chosen for their durability and the aesthetic appeal they offer through their finish and texture.

Bronze and Brass

Bronze and brass are popular for their rich, golden hues, giving the coins a classic, prestigious look. Bronze, an alloy consisting primarily of copper and tin, is known for its hardness and resistance to corrosion, making it an ideal choice for coins that are meant to last. Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, also offers similar durability but with a slightly brighter finish compared to bronze.

Nickel and Copper

Nickel is favored for its silver appearance, providing a modern and sleek look to the challenge coins. It's a hard, resistant material that can take on a high polish, ensuring the coins retain their shine over time. Copper coins exude a traditional feel, with their distinctive reddish-brown color that can develop a unique patina over time, adding character to the coin.

Precious Metals

For special editions or highly prestigious awards, challenge coins can be made from precious metals such as silver or gold. These materials elevate the coin's significance, symbolizing the highest honor and respect for the recipient. The use of such materials reflects the value and esteem in which the holders are held, making these coins exceptionally coveted.


The choice of material significantly impacts the coin's weight, feel, and overall appearance, with each offering a unique finish that can embody the ethos and values of the issuing organization. The tactile experience of a challenge coin, combined with its visual design, contributes to its significance as a token of honor and achievement.

The Design Process: Crafting Your Vision

The journey of making a challenge coin starts with an idea—a vision to create a token that perfectly encapsulates the values, achievements, or identity of a group or individual. Here's how Command Challenge Coins transforms this vision into a tangible symbol:

Step 1: Connect With Us

The initial step in creating your custom challenge coins involves reaching out with your ideas. During this phase, you'll be guided through pricing, turnaround times, and the detailed process ahead. This foundational step ensures that every client's needs and expectations are fully understood and met.

Step 2: Craft Your Design

At the heart of every challenge coin is its design. This is where creativity meets craftsmanship. Command Challenge Coins' team of talented graphic designers collaborates closely with clients to bring their concepts to life. Whether it's a unit insignia, corporate logo, or a commemorative design, the goal is to create a coin that resonates with its intended audience and purpose.

Step 3: Review & Approve

Once the design is conceptualized, a 3-D rendering is created. This is a crucial step where you, the client, get to see the envisioned design transformed into a preliminary form. It's an opportunity for review and revisions, ensuring the final product will be exactly as desired. This iterative process is key to achieving complete satisfaction with the end result.

Step 4: Production & Shipment

With the design approved, production commences. This is where the chosen materials are molded, struck, and finished to create the final challenge coins. Once completed, they are ready for delivery, marking the end of a journey from concept to creation—a journey that results in a unique, meaningful token ready to be cherished by its recipients.

How Are Challenge Coins Made? 

The creation of challenge coins is a complex process that combines traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. It starts with a concept and goes through several meticulous stages before becoming the emblematic pieces we value. Here's a closer look at each step:

Step 1: Making the Custom Mold

Experienced craftsmen use the design approved by the client to sculpt a detailed mold. This mold is designed to capture every intricate detail of the coin's design, ensuring that the final product accurately represents the vision and purpose it was meant to embody. The precision and expertise involved in this step are paramount, as the mold determines the quality and clarity of every coin produced from it.

Step 2: Striking the Coin

Once the mold is ready, the actual coin production starts. The metal chosen for the coin—be it brass, bronze, or another—is heated and then struck with the mold under high pressure. This process, known as striking, imprints the design onto the metal, creating the coin's basic shape and design. Striking is an art form that requires precision and experience to ensure that each coin is a perfect representation of the design.

Step 3: Custom Edges

After striking, custom edges can be added to the coin. This step is optional but adds a unique touch to the final product. Depending on the client's request, edges can be smooth, waved, or even have a more intricate design. This customization adds depth and character to the coins, making them stand out.

Step 4: Polishing

Polishing is next, ensuring that each coin shines and has a smooth finish. This stage removes any imperfections and prepares the coin for plating. The level of polish can vary, from a standard shine to an antique finish, affecting the coin's overall aesthetic and feel.

Step 5: Plating

Plating adds the final metal finish to the coin, enhancing its appearance and durability. Options typically include gold, silver, nickel, and copper, among others. This process not only contributes to the coin's visual appeal but also protects it from tarnishing and wear, ensuring it remains a lasting symbol of honor.

Step 6: Adding Coloring

For designs that require color, a meticulous process of adding enamel or paint follows. This step is done by hand, allowing for vibrant and precise application that brings the coin's details to life. The colors chosen often hold symbolic value, adding another layer of meaning to the coin.

Step 7: Final Inspection and Packaging of Custom Challenge Coins

The last step in the challenge coin production process is a thorough inspection. Each coin is examined to ensure it meets the high standards of quality and craftsmanship. Following approval, coins are carefully packaged, often in protective cases or pouches, ready for delivery. This final step underscores the commitment to excellence and pride in delivering a product that honors the achievements and camaraderie it is meant to symbolize.

The Significance of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins transcend their material composition to embody values of camaraderie, achievement, and respect. Originating from military tradition, these coins have evolved to serve as a tangible symbol of unity and pride across various sectors, including first responders, corporate teams, and social clubs.

Symbol of Belonging

One of the most profound aspects of challenge coins is their ability to symbolize belonging to a particular group or organization. Possession of a coin signifies membership and acceptance within an elite circle, fostering a sense of pride and unity among its members. This sense of belonging can significantly boost morale and strengthen bonds within a group.

Achievement and Recognition

Challenge coins often serve as tokens of recognition for accomplishments, whether they are exceptional service, participation in significant events, or achieving a specific milestone. Receiving a challenge coin can be deeply meaningful, serving as a tangible acknowledgment of an individual's hard work and dedication. It is a way to celebrate achievements in a manner that resonates with the recipient for years to come.

Respect and Honor

The presentation of a challenge coin is not only a recognition of achievement but also an expression of respect and honor from the issuing body. It reflects appreciation and esteem for the recipient's contributions, making it a cherished item. The honor associated with receiving a challenge coin can enhance the recipient's sense of worth and fulfillment.

Unity and Tradition

Challenge coins also play a significant role in upholding tradition and fostering unity among group members. The act of exchanging coins can strengthen ties and promote a sense of solidarity, especially in organizations with a rich history and tradition, such as the military.

The making of challenge coins is a meticulous process that blends artistry with tradition. From selecting the right materials to crafting a design that carries the essence of its intended group, each step is pivotal in creating a coin that is both meaningful and memorable. Command Challenge Coins prides itself on guiding each client through this journey, ensuring the final product not only meets but exceeds expectations.

Key Takeaways

  • Challenge coins are crafted from durable materials like bronze, brass, and nickel, ensuring their longevity and significance.
  • The design process is collaborative, involving detailed discussions between the client and graphic designers to encapsulate the intended message or identity.
  • A custom mold and iterative review process ensure that the final design aligns perfectly with client expectations before production.
  • The production stage brings the design to life, with careful attention to detail and quality ensuring a finished product is ready for delivery.
  • Beyond their physical appearance, challenge coins have deep symbolic significance, fostering unity and pride among their recipients.



    Discover the Honor Behind Every Coin

    At Command Challenge Coins, we're not just creating tokens; we're forging symbols of achievement, unity, and recognition. Our commitment to excellence is mirrored in every meticulously crafted coin, embodying the values and stories of those who carry them. From the rich history embedded in military traditions to the contemporary applications across various sectors, challenge coins represent more than just metal—they symbolize a legacy of honor and camaraderie.

    Have a design in mind or need guidance on creating your unique challenge coin? Get a free quote today to consult with our specialists.

    Back to blog

    Let's Create Your Legacy

    Ready to create a tangible symbol of excellence? Our team at Command Challenge Coins is committed to crafting a prestigious emblem that honors your organization’s milestones and achievements.

    Have a design in mind or need guidance on creating your unique challenge coin?

    Blog Posts